The 8 women cyclists to watch in 2019
As 2019 rears its cheeky little head, we turn to the pros, pundits and insiders of women’s pro cycling to discover who to watch out for in 2019…
From homegrown British talent to international names about to make it BIG on the grandest stage, we’ve rounded up a stonking list of the pro women set to define the next 12 months of bike racing. All with a little help from our friends…
Suggested by: Allan Stone, professional photographer and long-time friend of Casquette.
After a few years learning her trade in Belgium with Isorex, 2018 was Dani Christmas's first year as a pro with Spanish UCI team, Bizkaia Durango–Euskadi Murias, and was also the year that she won her first UCI race (Tour de Belle).
Team GB also came knocking for the European Championships, where she managed a fantastic 20th place after performing as a worker bee domestique for the team.
Building on this really strong year, 2019 will see her move to Lotto Soudal Ladies, which looks likely to be another fantastic step forward. You heard it here first, Dani Christmas is most certainly a name we’ll hear more of on these shores in the future.
Selected by: Tiff Cromwell, professional cyclist with Canyon//SRAM and Tanja’s teammate.
Tanja was the winner of the second Zwift Academy project, joining the team at the start of this season. Even from the beginning you could tell she had an understanding of bike racing and loved all aspects of it.
She’s always eager to learn, ask questions and takes in all the feedback – both positive and negative – and uses that to improve. She’s also driven and very determined, and isn’t content with just sitting back and being an ‘average’ rider.
We knew she had potential, or else she wouldn’t have won the pro contract with our team. But until someone starts racing, you’re never going to know exactly how they’ll fit in. Her greatest strength is her incredible burst of power. It’s been exciting to watch her in the races that I’ve done with her. When you ask her to do something, she’ll be there and do everything in her power to make it happen.
I think it’s only a matter of time before she’ll get the opportunity to contest a bunch-sprint final. She’s got so much potential to shine in this area, and with a little more guidance and experience, she’ll be one to watch when her time comes.
Suggested by: Rebecca Charlton, author, presenter and commentator
Riding for Cycle Team OnForm – supported by Brother – Anna Henderson is a name I became very familiar with throughout the 2018 season while commentating for Eurosport.
At just 19 years old, she’s already stepped from a career in alpine skiing to the elite cycling ranks, winning the National Circuit Championships and dominating many of the domestic races in the past year.
She’ll remain with the British team, who are changing their name to the slightly shorter ‘Brother UK – Tifosi’, this season. And with her fearless, technically flawless descending, coupled with a proven ability to win from a solo attack or bunch gallop, I can see her giving us plenty more to talk about in 2019 and beyond.
Selected by: Hannah Troop, co-host of The Cycling Podcast Explore.
The new women's team for 2019, Trek-Segafredo, have been snapping up some of the best female talent in the peloton, and Ruth Winder will be joining the star-studded WorldTour team alongside the likes of Lizzie Deignan, Ellen Van Dijk, Elisa Longo Borghini and Trixi Worrack. What a line-up!
In 2017, she placed in the top ten of seven of the eight stage races she competed in, including taking the GC top spot at the Tour de Feminin of the Czech Republic and the Joe Martin stage race.
This season she impressed by winning stage five of the Giro Rosa from a breakaway that defied the odds, placing her in the overall lead and donning the maglia rosa for a day. Added to this list of accolades, she was part of the Sunweb team that took the win on the first stage in the team time trial, she scored a fourth place on GC at Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardèche and tenth at this year's World Championships in Innsbruck – all of which leaves me in no doubt that she’ll do big things in 2019.
Suggested by: Molly Weaver, former professional with Trek-Drops-turned pundit and podcaster.
For the first time in her career Katie Hall will be making a much anticipated move to Europe next season. After turning pro in 2014 with the American team, UHC, she has made a name for herself on the European scene without ever having raced a full season on the continent.
With a GC win in the Tour of California this year against some tough international competition, and previously having impressed in the Women’s Tour by winning the mountains classification, it will be exciting to see another high calibre climber in the peloton next season.
Having signed for Boels-Dolmans, it looks likely that they will have a dynamite combination for the spring races in her and the newly-crowned world champion, Anna van der Breggen. I anticipate attacking riding from her in races such as Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the service of her teammate, and once the stage races roll around we could have another contender in the GC battles. Exciting stuff.
Six feet tall and lean as a whippet, anyone who sees Lucy Kennedy can tell she’s an athlete almost immediately. But the journey to settle on what sport she would focus on took some time. After forays in tennis, sailing, swimming and running, the Australian finally found her calling within the cycling peloton at the age of 29 when she joined Mitchelton-Scott. And what a decision that was!
In her first Women’s WorldTour race for the team, Strade Bianche, she beat the likes of Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Megan Guarnier and Lucinda Brand to finish an astounding fifth.
Injuries hampered the rest of her season, preventing her from having what could have been a breakthrough moment on the Zoncolan in the Giro Rosa. For me, the Zoncolan was a missed opportunity because Lucy gets better and better as the course gets harder. She thrives on the the most gruelling of climbs, a case proven when she set up Amanda Spratt for World Championship silver this year on the hardest parcours in recent memory.
It might be difficult for Lucy to take on a leader’s role in a team that already boasts two of the world’s best climbers in Spratt and Annemiek Van Vleuten. But that opportunity will definitely arise if the women’s calendar offers up mountains testing enough to befit her undeniable talent.
Selected by: Orla Chennaoui, TV and podcast presenter
Cecilie Uttrup-Ludwig is, to my mind, one of the most exciting prospects in the women’s professional peloton right now. While she may be a little bit more established than some of the riders on this list, the fact that she is still only 23 and has yet to win a Women’s WorldTour race means I can sneak her in as an up-and-coming talent.
Her potential was established with a podium finish at Trofeo Alfredo Binda in 2017, but it’s her racing over the past year and, more importantly, her attitude that really piqued my interest. The way she fired up La Course in particular was an absolute pleasure to watch, and her tears of joy at the finish line after having led the race for so long demonstrated a glorious passion for the sport that is so rare to see at any level.
Contrast that with her reaction to a similarly daring, though shorter-lived move at the World Championships, when she immediately told me at the finish that her priority was to go home, watch the race and learn from her mistakes, and there’s a clear combination of dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm, not to mention talent, that should hopefully see her go a long way. I, for one, am going to be watching her closely in 2019.
Sophie Wright and Pfeiffer Georgi
Selected by: Laura Winter, founder of dedicated women’s cycling channel, VoxWomen. She greedily picked two riders.
Pfeiffer Georgi is one of the most exciting talents the UK has ever produced and has just signed for WorldTour outfit Team Sunweb, a team renowned for developing young riders.
Despite balancing stunning GSCE results alongside training and racing commitments (seriously, we’re talking 10 A*s), Georgi has notched up some pretty impressive results on the road, including victories at Trofeo Binda Nations Cup, the Healthy Aging Junior Women’s Tour, the Watersley Ladies Challenge, Junior Gent-Wevelgem and Omloop van Borsele, showing her pedigree as an all-rounder and GC threat.
Another Brit to watch is Sophie Wright (pictured), who, after winning the Women’s National Road Series in the UK with a focused and consistent performance all season, exploded onto the international scene at the European Games road race with an audacious 80km breakaway, 60km of which she rode solo.
At the tender age of 19, Wright has signed for established WorldTour team, Cervelo Bigla, moving from UK team Torelli Brother. She’s a versatile rider, the first British European junior mountain bike champion in 2016, and has had to overcome her fair share of adversity in her short career, including a two rounds of heart surgery. For all these reasons, I’m sticking her on my ones to watch list.
To see who we picked out for ones to watch last year - and to see if we got it right, check this out